Friday, 4 July 2014

Le Tour - An Insider's Guide

The world's greatest bicycle race, the Tour de France, is coming to Cambridge next week, having this year started in Yorkshire. While these riders have tackled the Alps and the Pyrenees before they've probably never cycled in Cambridge. So here is a guide to all the delights and difficulties of riding through Cycle City.

This is where they'll be starting, near the Catholic Church, and here are Cambridge's own experts showing how to get away at the traffic lights before the cars and buses.

Inexperienced riders may find themselves left at the start. You will notice that riding on the path, though not strictly within the law, is quite acceptable in Cambridge; as is going the wrong way down one way streets and ignoring traffic lights.

The "peloton" soon sorts itself out and forms only a minor hazard to other road users.

The landscape is mostly quite flat and there are no slopes which are not surmountable to the bicycle. You may need to practise your hill-parking however.

By this time the front-runners will be setting a cracking pace....

....while more experienced campaigners will await their opportunity.

The Copper Kettle cafe offers a full English breakfast, served all day, or fish and chips if anyone's feeling peckish at this early stage.

The City Council provide useful maps should riders lose their way in the maze of streets.

There are also many unmistakable landmarks to guide you on your way.

Now here's drama as one of the competitors has to stop for repairs!

And is that the yellow jersey of the overall race-leader? He seems to have had enough of Cambridge's traffic and potholes and has stopped for a coffee!

Any rider glancing up in Trinity Street might think he's already in France with the bunting and shuttered windows. But, no, I can see a Union flag up there....

....or maybe we are in France after all!

Meanwhile the Regent Hotel gets into the spirit of the day!

And the leading riders speed off into the distance. Having successfully negotiated the streets of Cambridge it's only another 94 miles (150 Km) to London. And they call that a "short stage"!

Take care.


  1. I love this. Up here you'd think the whole Tour lasted just 2 days - no-one seems to be mentioning that it goes on to Cambridge... or indeed France! I think the belief is they'll be so exhausted after tackling Yorkshire's hills that they'll all give up, except Team Sky!

  2. What an exciting event! You have some very nice photos here. I especially like the first & last & one midway down of the young woman in lovely dress on bike a bit blurred....that one is my favorite.

  3. charming photo essay on the bikes of Cambridge and the Tour--enjoyed it!

  4. I hope that they get lots of people to watch. My brother is a volunteer 'Tour Marshal' in Finchingfield. Looks good fun but probably very disruptive in a city like Cambridge. Great pictures, thank you.

  5. \Love the bunting - very eclectic..

  6. John, you are just too funny. I should have expected this nice bio riding lesson from you.

    Stay on a side street when the riders whizz past. It could be dangerous.

  7. A fun post. Do you plan to be part of the mayhem? Rooting for Mark Cavendish to win in his mum's hometown?

  8. This is a wonderfully amusing and interesting post! I loved your fresh approach. I visited Cambridge about ten years ago and enjoyed it immensely. Your pictures brought back those memories.

  9. Well it happened here today John, only to spoil itself in the last minute when poor Mark Cavendish took a hard tumbled and I would guess probably broke his collar bone - he was certainly in pain. But we showed our Dales off to great advantage in the sunshine and the thousands turned out. Lots of disruption to local traffic but it is running again normally now.

  10. I have been enjoying watching the goings on in Yorkshire and didn't realise they were coming close to home. I love our rendition of this and can imagine the crowds when it happens. Have a great weekend.

  11. What a fun post. I think I might have seen myself in a couple of your photos, ahem!

  12. A fun post indeed John. Thanks for brightening our day.

  13. I like this humorous approach to the post and the array of photos (especially No. 6 and 16 this time). Dabbed as Cycle City, bicycles must be the popular way of transport not only to students but also to various people in Cambridge. What I didn’t see on this post and I see most in my daily life in my place is mothers riding “mamachari” bike with one or two young children on baby-seats when bringing the kids to kindergarten or for grocery shopping. Enjoy the Tour and cycling into summer!


  14. Very funny and lovely pics too!

  15. Seems like Cambridge is the ideal place to be a cyclist John ... and what an honour to have Le Tour featured in your home city. I think I'd settle in at the "Copper Kettle Cafe" with a good coffee and watch the world go by. A great post which brought a smile to my face.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer any questions via a comment or e-mail within the next day or two (no hard questions, please!).